Criminalizing charity

At left, LA Cardinal John Mahoney brushes up on his law-breaking skills at this week's Ash Wednesday service in LA.

Ah, the brilliant minds on Capitol Hill are at it again, thinking up all kinds of ways to make we the people do their work.

This time, they are enlisting us in the INS -- the Immigration and Naturalization Service -- and tasking us with the job of fixing the problem of illegal aliens, which our representatives in Congress have worked so hard to repair in the 4-1/2 years since 9/11.

"But how can we help?" you may ask. Why, by refusing to assist any illegal immigrant in any way, or risk being charged with aiding and abetting!

House Bill 4437, sponsored by James Sensenbrenner Jr. of Wisconsin and Peter King of New York, would expand the definition of "alien smuggling". What's wrong with that? According to a New York Times editorial the bill would make it a crime to help an illegal alien by "working in a soup kitchen, driving a friend to a bus stop or caring for a neighbor's baby."

Sounds like a stupid idea put forth by some obscure and demented pol? Guess again. According to the The Orange County (CA) Register, "The House version passed Dec. 16 by a vote of 239 to 182."

Maybe we should rename it from the "House of Representatives" to the "House of 239 Numbskulls."

So if you know an illegal -- say your Mom or Dad or grandma -- then pouring them a cup of coffee or doing their PJs would make you a criminal. If their house was on fire, the firemen who put out the blaze would face fines or jail time. The barber who cut their hair and the doctor who stitched them up would land in the pokey. Only in America!

Luckily, saner heads are raising their voices in protest, among them LA's Cardinal John Mahoney, who is even calling for priests in his diocese to ignore the law, should it pass. Nothing like a little civil disobedience to get the blood flowing. You go, Cardinal J!

LA Bishop Jaime Soto (hmm, Hispanic name, maybe he's one of them?), Auxiliary Bishop of Orange County calls the bill "wildly impractical." He imagines being hauled into court if he sees an illegal "in the Communion line or [who] wants to bury their grandmother or asks us to provide religious instruction for their children or baptize their babies." It doesn't take Maxwell Smart to see the idiocy of this bill.

Aside from the sheer idiocy of the law, there's that nagging issue of constitutionality. If I help an illegal based on my religious beliefs, will sending me to jail infringe on my right to practice my faith? And if lawyers can't defend clients who are illegals, doesn't that hamper their right to a fair trial?

Makes you wonder about the sanity and competence of the boobs in DC. They've had years to beef up our borders and this is the best they can come up with? Yikes.